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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Ezekiel 1

Verses 1-15

Ezekiel’s Vision - The description of God coming down from Heaven to intervene in the affairs of man in this passage is very similar to the vision that David recorded in Psalms 18:7-12 when the earth shook and trembled. In addition, both David and the children of the Babylonian captivity were experiencing distress during this visitation from above.

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1 “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month” Comments - While many of the other prophet books date their collection of prophecies by the names of the ruling kings of Judah and Israel, Ezekiel give a unique introduction. He describes an event that takes place in the thirtieth year (Ezekiel 1:1), which corresponds to the fifth year of their captivity (Ezekiel 1:2). Many different suggestions have been given as to meaning of the phrase “thirtieth year.” However, scholars have not been able to associate the thirtieth year with a royal date. For example, this date could not refer to the reign of the Jewish King Josiah (640 to 609 B.C.), since the deportation of King Jehoiachin was approximately 597 B.C., which serves as a reference point mentioned in Ezekiel 1:2. Neither can this date refer to the thirtieth year of the reign of the Babylonian King Nabopolasser (626-605 B.C.), the first king of Babylon because the numbers again do not accurately correspond to the fifth year of Jecoiachin’s deportation. The two most plausible interpretations among scholars today suggest the phrase “thirtieth year” either refers to the date of the closing of the prophecies and publication of his book, or to the age of the prophet, with the latter being the most popular view.

(1) The Date of the Babylonian Captivity Efforts have been made to associate the thirtieth year with the other twelve chronological dates that Ezekiel places within his collection of prophecies (Ezekiel 1:2; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 20:1; Ezekiel 24:1; Ezekiel 26:1; Ezekiel 29:1; Ezekiel 29:17; Ezekiel 30:20; Ezekiel 31:1; Ezekiel 32:1; Ezekiel 32:17; Ezekiel 40:1), beginning from the fifth year to the twenty-seventh year of his captivity, as stated in the first and final date (Ezekiel 1:2; Ezekiel 40:1). This would mean that Ezekiel received his opening vision at the end of his ministry in the thirtieth year of his captivity. However, most scholars have a difficult time corresponding this opening date with the chronological dates placed throughout the book. For example, a prophet receives his divine commission at the beginning of his ministry and not at the end.

(2) Ezekiel’s Age when Called into the Prophetic Ministry The most popular view is to associate the thirtieth year with the age of the prophet Ezekiel when God commissioned him into the prophetic ministry because it is the easiest interpretation to work with in the biblical text. According to Jewish historian Josephus, Ezekiel was a priest by birth ( Antiquities 10.5.1), and from the Law of Moses we know that a priest began his duties at the age of thirty (Numbers 4:1-49, 1 Chronicles 23:3). Thus, the opening verse of the book of Ezekiel indicates that Ezekiel probably received his commission at the age of thirty because he then was able by the Mosaic Law to serve as a priest to the children of Israel who were in exile. In this commission, he became a “watchman” for Israel and for the surrounding nations.

1 Chronicles 23:3, “Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.”

An additional support for this view of Ezekiel’s age can be found in the Old Testament. Genesis 8:13-14 gives Noah’s age as a reference to the event of the flood in the same way that Ezekiel’s age is probably described in Ezekiel 1:1.

Genesis 8:13-14, “And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.”

Ezekiel 1:1 “as I was among the captives” Comments - God has a divine way of intervening in the history of man to deliver His redeeming word to him. He placed Ezekiel among the captives of Israel in a distant land. He allowed Ezekiel to go through the same trials that backslidden Israel experienced so that he would be there to speak words of hope and redemption. We sometimes do not understand why our circumstances are difficult when we have lived godly. Ezekiel must have questioned the cause of his difficulties; but the Lord gave him understanding in these things.

Ezekiel 1:1 “by the river of Chebar” Comments - Ralph Alexander says the river Chebar has been identified by scholars “with the “naru kabari” (mentioned in two cuneiform texts from Nippur), which is a canal making a southeasterly loop near the ancient site of Nippur, connecting at both ends with the Euphrates River.” [12]

[12] Ralph H. Alexander, Ezekiel, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 6, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), comments on Ezekiel “Introduction: Place of Origin and Destination.”

Ezekiel 1:1 “that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God” Comments - The book of Ezekiel is similar to the book of Revelation in that both men saw apocalyptic visions of future events. Ezekiel saw future events in Israel’s redemption, while John the apostle saw future events in the Church’s redemption.

Ezekiel 1:1 Comments The Manner in which Divine Oracles were Delivered unto the Prophets - God spoke through the Old Testament prophets in various ways, as the author of the epistle of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…” (Hebrews 1:1). The Lord spoke divine oracles ( מַשָּׂא ) through the Old Testament prophets in three general ways, as recorded in the book of Hosea, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.” (Hosea 12:10) ( NKJV) In other words, the prophets spoke to Israel through the words they received, they described divine visions to the people, and they acted out as divine drama an oracle from the Lord.

(1) The Word of the Lord Came to the Prophets - God gave the prophets divine pronouncements to deliver to the people, as with Hosea 1:1. The opening verses of a number of prophetic books say, “the word of the Lord came to the prophet…” Thus, these prophets received a divine utterance from the Lord.

(2) The Prophets Received Divine Visions - God gave the prophets divine visions ( חָזוֹן ), so they prophesied what they saw ( חזה ) (to see). Thus, these two Hebrew words are found in Isaiah 1:1, Obadiah 1:1, Nahum 1:1, and Habakkuk 1:1. Ezekiel saw visions ( מַרְאָה ) of God.

(3) God Told the Prophets to Deliver Visual Aids as Symbols of Divine Oracles - God asked the prophets to demonstrate divine oracles to the people through symbolic language. For example, Isaiah walked naked for three years as a symbol of Assyria’s dominion over Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20:1-6). Ezekiel demonstrated the siege of Jerusalem using clay tiles (Ezekiel 4:1-3), then he laid on his left side for many days, then on his right side, to demonstrate that God will require Israel to bear its iniquities.

Ezekiel 1:2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,

Ezekiel 1:2 Comments - Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, begin his reign in Jerusalem in 597 B.C. The fifth year of his captivity would be 593 B.C.

Ezekiel 1:3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezekiel 1:3 Word Study on “Ezekiel” PTW says the name “Ezekiel” means “God strengthens,” which meaning summarizes the theme of this great prophetic book.

Ezekiel 1:5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

Ezekiel 1:5 “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures” Comments - The fact that the living creatures came forth from the midst of the fiery whirlwind signifies that they are coming from the presence of God. These creatures will later be identified in Ezekiel 10:15 as cherubim.

Ezekiel 10:15, “And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.”

Ezekiel 1:8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

Ezekiel 1:8 “and they four had their faces and their wings” Comments - The NIV reads, “All four had faces and wings.”

Ezekiel 1:9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

Ezekiel 1:9 “Their wings were joined one to another” Comments - The RSV says, “their wings touched one another.” The fact that their wings touched as they flew signifies their unity in executing their divine ministries, just as flocks of birds fly in formation.

Ezekiel 1:9 “they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward” Comments - These creatures were sent forth from the presence of God to perform His will. Their straight, unaltered path signifies the fact that God’s plans and purposes are predetermined and planed. It also signifies that God’s plans are unaltered and will surely come to pass.

Ezekiel 1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

Ezekiel 1:10 Comments - These four faces represent the work and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The face of a man symbolizes the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The lion symbolizes Jesus as the King of Kings, the highest office held by man. The ox represents the most expensive offering that an Israelite can bring from the flock. The calf symbolizes Jesus as the sacrifice for sins on the altar. The eagle symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His exalted position at the right hand of the Father (Proverbs 23:5).

Proverbs 23:5, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven .”

These creatures are very similar to the four creatures that John saw in his vision (Revelation 4:6-7).

Revelation 4:6-7, “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”

The four living creatures, or cherubim, standing around the throne of God in the book of Revelation, symbolize the character, or person, of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the twenty-four elders represent the saints of God. Twelve elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve elders represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Thus, these twenty-four elders represent the nation of Israel as well as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ezekiel 1:11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

Ezekiel 1:11 “and two covered their bodies” Comments - The creatures covered themselves with their wings in a gesture of humility.

Ezekiel 1:12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

Ezekiel 1:12 Comments - These four living creatures were being sent forth from the presence of God to perform His divine will. Their straight, unaltered path signifies the fact that God’s plans and purposes are predetermined and planned. It also signifies that God’s plans are unaltered and will surely come to pass. The spirit here most likely represents the Holy Spirit of God, which leads and empowers these creatures to perform God’s will just as the Holy Spirit guides each believer. The fact that they turned not when they went indicates their total obedience and submission to the Holy Spirit. The four heads going straight forward signifies that they were of one mind and one purpose. (Compare the angel’s interpretation to John the apostle of the unity of a multi-headed beast with the multi-headed creatures in Ezekiel [Revelation 17:12-13 ]).

Revelation 17:12-13, “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind , and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”

If we believe that demons can trouble mankind and devise wicked plans to hinder them, then how much more should God’s holy angels be able to go forth to implement good plans from the hand of God.

Ezekiel 1:13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

Ezekiel 1:13 Comments - The element of fire in the midst of the creatures is very significant. Fire often represents divine judgment and purging in the Scriptures. Ezekiel will later explain in chapter 10 that these coals of fire will be taken from between the wheels and dispersed over the city of Jerusalem as a symbol of God’s coming judgment (Ezekiel 10:2).

Ezekiel 10:2, “And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.”

In is interesting to note that these coals of judgment were not scattered upon the seven surrounding nations that God also judged. Perhaps because the judgment upon Jerusalem overflowed into these surrounding nations since they promoted and delighted in the fall of Jerusalem.

Verses 1-28

Ezekiel’s Commission (Comparison with John the Apostle on the Isle of Patmos) - In Ezekiel 1:1 to Ezekiel 3:21 we are given a description of Ezekiel’s supernatural vision and divine commission to be a witness to the Jews in Captivity. In a similar way that John the apostle was banished on the isle of Patmos and had a heavenly vision, so does Ezekiel have a vision in his banishment by the river Chebar. The Lord gave both of them a tremendous revelation using symbols of future events. Both of their books open with a vision. Both visions begin with a visitation from the throne of God. John the apostle was visited by Jesus Christ, who was now ascended to this heavenly throne. Ezekiel simply saw the throne with it glory, for Jesus Christ had not yet taken upon Himself the form of man. Both apocalyptic visions end with a description of heaven, where those who are faithful will abide eternally. Both men are given symbolic revelations of those events that will lead up to the fulfillment of all things.

Both are given books to eat. They both experienced the books to taste like honey. John says that it became bitter to his belly, while Ezekiel says that he went in bitterness of spirit.

Ezekiel 3:1-2, “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll , and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.”

Ezekiel 3:3, “And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness .”

Ezekiel 3:14, “So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit ; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.”

Revelation 10:9, “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey .”

While John seems to emphasize the role of the Church in the last days, Ezekiel places emphasis upon the role of the nation of Israel.

Ezekiel 1:1 to Ezekiel 3:21 Ezekiel’s Divine Commission (Comparison with Other Divine Commissions) Ezekiel 1:1 to Ezekiel 3:21 describes the prophets divine commission to be a witness to the Jews in Captivity. We often find a divine commission at the beginning of the story of God’ servants in the Scriptures. We see in the book of Genesis that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each received their commissions at the beginning of their genealogies, which divide the book of Genesis into major divisions. We also see how Moses received his divine commission near the beginning of his story found within Exodus to Deuteronomy. Joshua received his commission in the first few verses of the book of Joshua. In addition, we see that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel each received a divine commission at the beginning of their ministries. The book of Ezra opens with a divine call to rebuild the Temple and the book of Nehemiah begins with a call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which callings Ezra and Nehemiah answered. In the New Testament, we find Paul the apostle receiving his divine commission in Acts 9:1-22 at the beginning of the lengthy section on Paul’s life and ministry.

Each of these divine callings can be found within God’s original commission to Adam in the story of Creation to be fruitful and multiply. For these men were called to bring the about the multiplication of godly seeds. The patriarchs were called to multiply and produce a nation of righteousness. Moses was called to bring Israel out of bondage, but missed his calling to bring them into the Promised Land. Joshua was called to bring them in to the land. Esther was called to preserve the seed of Israel as was Noah, while Ezra and Nehemiah were called to bring them back into the Promised Land. All of the judges, the kings and the prophets were called to call the children of Israel out of sin and bondage and into obedience and prosperity. They were all called to bring God’s children out of bondage and destruction and into God’s blessings and multiplication. The stories in the Old Testament show us that some of these men fulfilled their divine commission while others either fell short through disobedience or were too wicked to hear their calling from God.

The awesome vision of God in the opened heavens would leave a deep impression on Ezekiel throughout his entire life as a priest to the children of Israel. This vision of God’s holiness would always stand as a measuring rod for Ezekiel as he spoke to the corrupt and wicked hearts of God’s people.

Moses had such an experience at the burning bush to launch him into his ministry (Exodus 3-4). God gave the children of Israel a similar vision as they stood before Mount Sinai and beheld God’s descent upon the mount (Exodus 19:0). We see Isaiah being given a vision of God on His throne (Isaiah 6:0). Jeremiah received his calling and a vision in the opening chapter of his book. Paul the apostle was struck down on the road to Damascus with a vision by which God called him into his ministry (Acts 9:1-22).

Verses 16-18

Ezekiel 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

Ezekiel 1:16 “The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl” Word Study on “wheel” Strong says the Hebrew word “wheel” ( אֹופַן ) (H212) means, “a wheel.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 36 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “wheel(s) 35, fitly 1.” Strong says this word comes from an unused Hebrew root that means, “to revolve.” Therefore, literally means, “wheel,” but it can also be used figuratively, or symbolically, to refer to the realm of “time”. For example, this same Hebrew word for wheel ( אֹופַן ) is used on one occasion in the book of Proverbs to signify the realm of time (Proverbs 25:11).

Proverbs 25:11, “Apples of gold in imagery of silver, Is the word spoken at its fit times .” (Young’s Literal Translation)

Comments - The ISBE and Smith say the color “beryl” perhaps refers to a chrysolite, a yellow jasper, or some other yellow or green-coloured stone. [13] This was one of the precious stones sewn in the breastplate of the priest (Exodus 28:20), and therefore, Ezekiel the priest would have easily compared the color of the wheels to something that he was already familiar with.

[13] Lazarus Fletcher, “Stones, Precious,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Exodus 28:20, “And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.”

Ezekiel 1:16 “and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel” Comments - The inner wheel represents time, as man is able to measure it. Note how Ezekiel is measuring time by days, months and years throughout his prophecies. The outer wheel represents eternity. Man lives in the realm of time, but God lives in eternity, where time does not exist (Isaiah 57:15).

Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity , whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Note a comment from Frances J. Roberts, which illustrates this symbolism of the wheel within a wheel found in the vision of Ezekiel:

“My ageless purposes are set in Eternity. Time is as a little wheel set within the big wheel of Eternity. The little wheel turneth swiftly and shall one day cease. The big wheel turneth not, but goeth straight forward. Time is thy responsibility Eternity is Mine! Ye shall move into thy place in the big wheel when the little wheel is left behind. See that now ye redeem the time, making use of it for the purposes of My eternal kingdom, thus investing it with something of the quality of the big wheel. As ye do this, thy days shall not be part of that which turneth and dieth, but of that which goeth straight forward and becometh one with My great universe. Fill thy days with light and love and testimony. Glorify and honor My Name. Praise and delight thyself in the Lord. So shall eternity inhabit thy heart and thou shalt deliver thy soul from the bondages of time.” [14]

[14] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 31-2.

If we realize that man’s days, months and years are determined by the rotation of the earth, moon and planets, we can easily see how the word “rotate” can denote time, as well as “wheel.” As we reach out further into the universe, which represents eternity, we see that the planets rotate within their solar system. Man has recently discovered that these solar systems rotate around each other and around their galaxies. The Sun is located within the Milky Way Galaxy, which contains between 200 to 400 billion other stars. The diameter of the Milky Way is approximately 100,000 light years across. These stars are rotating around the galactic center of the Milky Way, while several smaller galaxies are rotating around the Milky Way in billions of years. Scientists estimate that there are about 10 billion large galaxies within the universe, with a grand total of 2,000 billion billion stars contained in these galaxies. Scientists believe that the entire mass of the universe is either rotating or in motion in some manner. [15] At some point, man may see that all of the universe, or eternity, is in rotation. This type of rotation is beyond man’s comprehension, and thus, dwells in the realm of the divine, where God inhabits eternity. The outer wheel represents this eternal rotation.

[15] Hartmut Frommert and Christine Kronberg, “The Milky Way Galaxy,” [on-line]; accessed 1 September 2009; available from http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~powersr/New/notes/3rd year misc/3013 galaxies/The Milky Way Galaxy.htm; Internet.

Thus, the little wheel represents the rotation that determines man’s time measured by days, months and years, while the outer wheel represents time on a much greater scale, in which only God can see and understand. The eyes on the outer wheel symbolize the fact that only God knows the eternal realm of time. The fact that these two wheels spin together symbolizes the fact that God, who dwells in eternity, is working through man, who lives in the realm of time, to bring about His divine plan of redemption. The fact that the inner wheel of time is spinning within the outer wheel of God’s eternity symbolize the fact that man’s plans are carried out within the greater plan of Almighty God and that God’s plans will determine the outcome of man’s plans. These angels have been sent forth from eternity to invade mortal man’s world of time in order to set in motion his redemption. Thus, they move between the inner and outer wheels, between time and eternity to fulfill their ministries.

So, we can say that as believers, we walk by God’s time frame and not by man’s time frame. Paul said this a different way in 2 Corinthians 5:7, by saying, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” We as believers look towards the eternal things, while the world looks at the temporal things of this earth. Paul said the same thing several times in his epistles.

2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Colossians 3:2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

This is the secret to how great men of God endured suffering, because they were looking for eternal things.

1. Abraham’s suffering involved living in a tent all of his life. Therefore, he looked for a heavenly city:

Hebrews 11:10, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

2. Job’s revelation of God in Job 38-41 helped him to focus on heavenly things and to look beyond his suffering. With this mindset, he stopped praying for the deliverance of himself and was able to prayer for the deliverance of his friends, thus receiving deliverance for himself:

Job 42:1-3, “Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”

3. Paul the apostle was looking for a crown, so he ran his race as if to win:

2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

4. Even Jesus Christ Himself endured the Cross because He was focused on the eternal things of God. Jesus accepted shame in this life because He knew His Father would reward Him with glory and honor at His right hand:

Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Ezekiel 1:18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

Ezekiel 1:18 “and their rings were full of eyes round about them four” Comments - The eyes in the wheels signify that God has seen the wickedness in the hearts of Israel. He sees what goes on behind closed doors. God will show these hidden sins to Ezekiel so that he can speak against them to the children of captivity.

Verses 19-21

Ezekiel 1:20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

Ezekiel 1:20 “for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels” Comments - This signifies that the living creatures were moving in the realm of man’s time as well as dwelling in eternity. In other words, they were able to transcend and move into both realms at one time.

Ezekiel 1:21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

Comments The Living Creatures and the Wheels - The spirits of these living creatures were within the wheels, and wherever the spirits of the creature went, the wheels followed. These verses describe the movement of the living creatures in relation to their wheels. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that the wheels always follow these creatures. The movement of these living creatures signifies the fact that they have been sent forth to set in motion the eternal plans and purposes of Almighty God. The straight movement represents the unaltered plans and purposes of Almighty God. The eyes represent God’s all knowing nature of eternal things. The wheels represent God’s eternal timetable to accomplish His divine will. The fact that the wheels go with these creatures everywhere they go indicates that these living creatures are implementing God’s plans on His eternal time scale.

Verses 22-28

The Four Living Creatures - The description of four living creatures carrying the throne of God is found in other passages of Scripture. In the wilderness, four Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant through the desert, which David understood as symbol of God’s throne (2 Samuel 6:2).

2 Samuel 6:2, “And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.”

David even had a similar vision as Ezekiel and recorded it in a Psalms 18:0. The description of God coming down from Heaven to intervene in the affairs of man in this Psalm is very similar to the vision that the prophet Ezekiel received in the first chapter of his writings (see Ezekiel 1:4-28). In addition, both David and the children of the Babylonian captivity were experiencing distress during this visitation from above. Therefore, the Temple of Solomon contained a resemblance to these “chariots” of the cherubims that David has seen in a vision (1 Chronicles 28:18).

Psalms 18:6-12, “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.”

1 Chronicles 28:18, “And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD.”

Ezekiel 1:26 “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD” Comments - Ezekiel summed up this vision as a description of the glory of the Lord. This is an important phrase, as it is used to bring unity to the book. For this glory will depart from the Temple (Ezekiel 10:18-22) and will then be restored when God restores his people as a nation (Ezekiel 43:1-6).

Ezekiel 1:26-28 Comments - The Throne of God - The description of God’s throne is similar to the one that John gives to us in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 4:2-3, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”

Daniel also gave a similar description.

Daniel 10:5-6, “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/ezekiel-1.html. 2013.